Marvin Miller passed away last week. When this happened I immediately began work on a post detailing the important impact Miller’s work — as the first leader of the Major League Baseball Players Association — had on sports. And then I noticed that many other people had the same idea (see Jayson Stark, Jon Wertheim, Lester Munson, and Richard Justice – among many others). Given all the wonderful writing on Miller’s life and career, I decided to focus on how Miller impacted our understanding of both sports and economics.
Such a post… well, I could write more than a few thousand words on just that topic. Since few people want to read that many words at a blog, I am going to focus on Miller’s work to end baseball’s reserve clause (and what that has meant for baseball, sports, and economics).
Our story begins back in the 19th century. As noted in a wonderful article by E. Woodrow Eckard in the Journal of Sports Economics, the National League began in 1876 with a labor market quite similar to the markets we tend to observe outside of sports. Read More »
The following is a guest post by David Berri, a Professor of Economics at Southern Utah University. He is also the lead author of Stumbling on Wins, the general manager of the sports-economics blog Wages of Wins, and is a frequent contributor to the Freakonomics blog.
With the NBA away, sports fans are looking for something to satisfy their need to watch teams strive for victory. Well, why not take a look at the teams competing in the lockout? Okay, maybe this is a contest only a sports economist could love. But while it may not appeal to everyone, the labor dispute is still best thought of as a contest between two teams.
The first team is the NBA owners. The owners are the dominant buyer in the world market for elite basketball talent, so they have substantial monopsony power. In the other corner are the players, who are currently trying to disband their union. This union gave the players monopoly power in the sale of elite basketball talent (more specifically, in helping to determine the conditions under which individual players would sell their services). When a monopsony meets a monopoly on the economic battlefield, the outcome is determined by bargaining. Read More »
When I was a kid, tickets for grandstand seats at Comiskey Park (where my team, the White Sox, used to play) cost the same regardless of who the opponent was (only 7 possible in those days), the time of day or day of week. At a recent Minnesota Twins game I learned that MLB has gotten smart, pricing differentially depending on the identity of the opponent and the date/time of the game.
For games in the same one-week period a home plate view grandstand seat in Target Field ranges from $36 to $45, with a higher price for night games, weekend games and, most important, for more attractive opponents (sadly, higher, other things equal, for the Red Sox than the White Sox). Probably aided by web technology, teams can do a better job of equilibrating demand and the (fixed) supply of seats, although the current price range and the partly-empty stadium in the game I saw (against the last-place Kansas City Royals) still doesn’t seem great enough to accomplish this completely.